I rise to speak to the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration (Gender Identity) Amendment Bill. This bill seeks to change the way personal biographical information is registered, stored and retrieved by the state and its citizens within South Australia. My understanding of the reasons for this bill is that transgender and intersex people may often have identity documents which are inconsistent with their current status. This prevents these people from fully accessing further services which require multiple documents to prove their identity, as the inconsistencies prohibit access.
I believe that it was confirmed in the other place and by the minister at briefings that the information recorded at the person's birth is not erased, nor is it changed, but new information is added when a person changes their gender. I would like him to confirm this during his summing up. Furthermore, I understand when a request for a copy of a birth certificate is made, only a person's current information is pulled from the register, so it remains up to date and consistent. I want to know if I am correct in this assumption.
My concerns with the bill are not specifically around this issue, as this seems entirely practical. I do have an issue with some of the potential loopholes or unintended consequences of allowing people to change their gender at will. First and foremost, there is a concern about the required threshold for changing one's gender. It is such a big decision and a permanent one, and should remain as such. We should not be reducing gender to something as fluid as a mood or a whim. In the other place, there were a number of amendments moved by the member for Schubert which sought to strengthen this threshold by imposing a minimum period of treatment, which is to be prescribed by regulation. I would like the minister to give an indication of what this time period would be.
Given that this bill repeals the Sexual Reassignment Act and replaces the current surgical threshold with a therapeutic one, I think these details are important enough for the council to be made aware of before a decision is made on such reform. By extension, children with psychological gender dysphoria would be able to change their gender more easily whereas before it may have required a diagnosed medical or biological anomaly.
I acknowledge the need to allow children who have actual biological anomalies which may require a change in gender early in their lives, and the law should accommodate this, as I believe the current act does. However, we must be very careful not to allow modern gender theory and ideology to pervert such a delicate process. I would not want to see this bill allow a parent with a certain ideological bent coerce or encourage their children to change their gender when there is no medical or biological need to do so. We must be very careful when it comes to the psychology of children and we must remember that children can change dramatically as they mature, and it is important that we do not allow a situation where children are having to reverse changes in gender because they were made without the appropriate level of scrutiny and discernment.
In regard to another issue with the bill, the honourable member for Hammond in another place raised the question of whether allowing such freedom to change one's gender could act as a backdoor path to same-sex marriage. Unfortunately, the minister could not offer any reassurance to the member for Hammond and, as I heard previously from the contribution of the Hon. Ms Franks, it seems that this is actually a reason for the bill to go ahead.
Regardless of what one's views are on the issue of same-sex marriage, this council should not be seeking to undermine the commonwealth Marriage Act and the commonwealth's exclusive constitutional power over marriage. Until the commonwealth Marriage Act changes, we should not be encouraging any behaviour or action contrary to it. The minister may also want to address this concern. Finally, I want to note a concern around the definition of gender by regulation which is what the bill allows for in its current form. Can the minister confirm which genders will be allowable for identification? Furthermore, why would they not be prescribed in legislation, given that any progress could be removed with a future minister's pen stroke?